"Milk" and "J. Edgar" screenwriter Dustin Lance Black's gay marriage play "8" will feature an star-studded cast for its March premiere in Los Angeles.
In September, "8" was performed as a one-night benefit with stars including Morgan Freeman, Ellen Barkin, John Lithgow, Cheyenne Jackson, and others, raising over $1 million. The Los Angeles event will also function as a benefit, with a line-up that includes George Clooney, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Rob Reiner, Martin Sheen and George Takei.
The play centers on Perry vs. Schwarzenegger, a lawsuit seeking to strike down Proposition 8 in California, which illegalizes same-sex marriage in the state. The play draws on transcripts from the trial, and is bookended by the closing arguments from the battle.
Clooney and Sheen will play David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, the plaintiffs' lead co-counsel, while Christine Lahti and Jamie Lee Curtis will play the lesbian couple Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, the plaintiffs. Matthew Morrison and Matt Bomer will play a gay couple, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, also plaintiffs in the case. Jane Lynch, who married partner Lara Embry in 2010, will play an adversary to same-sex marriage, the co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage, Maggie Gallagher, with Rob Reiner as David Blankenhorn, the founder of the Institute for American Values.
"This play will continue to show Americans--one by one--that prejudice and fear cannot stand up to truth and justice," AFER Board President Chad Griffin said in a statement. "Try as they might, the anti-marriage proponents of Proposition 8 cannot hide their discriminatory arguments from the American people. Until every citizen can equally enjoy the freedom to marry, AFER will continue to fight in the courts of law and the court of public opinion--and we will win."
The American Foundation for Equal Rights and Broadway Impact are partnering to sponsor a tour of "8" in states like Maryland, New Hampshire and North Carolina, where activists are currently fighting actively for gay marriage. Over 40 readings have already been scheduled. Through the year, "8" will also be licensed for free to colleges and community theaters to encourage consciousness of the political questions raised by the show.
"People need to witness what happened in the Proposition 8 trial, if for no other reason than to see inequality and discrimination unequivocally rejected in a court of law where truth and facts matter," said Black. "I've built my career around exposing and uncovering 'the real story.' The goal of '8' is to show the world that marriage equality is a basic constitutional right and that those who would deny this basic freedom from loving, committed couples have only vitriol and baseless hyperbole to fall back on. The facts are on our side and truth always finds the light. We are doing all we can to help speed that process along."